Crafting the perfect fit is only one part of Poppy Barley’s core ethos.
The Ankle Bootie.
The Heeled Mule.
Ivory Snake Oxfords.
In any English town circa the Middle Ages, along with a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker, one could reliably find another indispensable tradesperson—a cobbler, who back then made clients footwear to order, measuring their feet in units of barley-corns and poppy seeds. Edmonton-based company Poppy Barley may use more modern techniques, but when it comes to handcrafting high-quality custom footwear, it retains an old-fashioned approach.
Founded by sisters Justine and Kendall Barber in 2012, the web-retail shop allows customers to input measurements to an online profile, as well as specifying the width of their feet and circumference of their calves; the styles, materials, and colours they prefer; and any particular concerns they may have when it comes to buying footwear. “So many of our clients respond saying, ‘Oh my God, I used to never find boots that fit—I have big calves, I have narrow feet…’ ” says Kendall. Unsurprisingly, the company has grown from solely being a women’s custom footwear business to carrying shoes in stock and featuring a line for men.
The perfect fit is only one part of Poppy Barley’s core ethos. “The other thing we really believe in is great materials,” says Kendall. “[And] the only way we can make the quality of the product we do is by selling directly via e-commerce.” Poppy Barley manufactures its products ethically in Mexico; in the name of transparency, its website states that workers are paid five times the region’s minimum wage. The results are shoes you can wear with a clear conscience. “I think there is a movement happening: people are buying fewer things and are buying things they love. The Poppy Barley story is luxury for the people.”